Western Australian (WA) stonefruit producers have raised concerns about the buying patterns of Coles supermarkets throughout the state, amid claims the retailer is favouring fruit produced in eastern Australian states.
Speaking with ABC Rural, Hills Orchard Improvement Group spokesman Brett DelSimone said the move was forcing a number of WA growers to dump consignments of nectarines, plums and other fruit crops.
“What we have seen [previously] is that the two supermarket giants, Coles and Woolworths, have generally had a process of targeting West Australian local fruit first, and then turning to the eastern states in times of under supply," DelSimone explained.
"Now it seems Coles have abandoned this philosophy and are basically sending in eastern states' produce, no matter what the supply conditions within Western Australia."
DelSimone said WA consumers were likely unaware they were purchasing fruit that had been grown and freighted from the other side of the country, with Coles not divulging the origin of their offerings.
“If they (consumers) had that knowledge I don't think that Coles would be getting away with what they are doing at the moment, they really are treating the consumer like fools,” DelSimone told ABC Rural.
Coles hit back at the claims in a company statement, saying over 80 per cent of stonefruit sold in its WA stores was sourced from the state.
“Currently there are gaps in our WA supply due to crop timings," the statement said. "While these gaps are being filled by new varieties, the trees require a few years to grow before they can produce a full crop."